BREAKING NEWS: Alumnus Connaughton Appointed by President Bush
Jun 28 2006 - 8:44am

President George Bush announced yesterday in a statement released by the White House that he intends to appoint Sean Connaughton, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of Fall 1995, to be Administrator of the Maritime Administration at the Department of Transportation. Sean currently works as Of Counsel for Troutman Sanders LLP and serves as Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

Click here to read a Washington Post article about the appointment and Connaughton's impressive achievements in Prince William County government.

Congratulations Sean!

Corrgian Profiled by UVA Alumni Magazine
Jun 28 2006 - 8:14am

Sorensen State Board member, Gene Corrigan, was profiled in the Summer 2006 issue of the UVA Alumni Magazine. Virginia's Athletic Director from 1971 to 1980, Corrigan also served as Commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Athletic Conference and President of the NCAA.

Political Leaders 2006 Profile: Shawn Utt
Jun 27 2006 - 12:27pm

Name: Shawn Utt
Age: 30
Born: I was born and grew up in Galax, Virginia.
Current digs: I live in Pulaski County and work in the City of Radford.
Occupation: City Planner
Favorite part about the job? Local politics and all that entails.
First job ever? My first job was as a grocery clerk at Old Town Market in Galax. I worked there for seven years, through high school and college.
Favorite book? Anything with suspense
Favorite movie? Anything with Morgan Freeman or Samuel Jackson
Must See TV? Not really into TV. Jeopardy is my favorite, if I had to choose.
Comfort food? Home-grown vegetables and Grandma Utt's chicken and
What's in your car CD player right now? Green Day's American Idiot
Next journey? I plan on venturing cross-country this summer, just go until the time runs out.
One thing people might be surprised to learn about you? I have an identical twin, Brian.
Last gift you received? XM Radio from my wife
Best advice you ever got? Always smile and be positive and good things will happen (Grandpa Ballard).
Whom do you admire and why? My mother, because she raised three rambunctious boys on a factory worker's salary and never complained. We always had clothes on our back and food on the table. She supported us enough to ensure we all went to college and had successful careers so we wouldn't
have to go through what she did. I love you Mom!
If you could have dinner with any one currently living, whom would it be and why? Mark Warner, not because of politics but because of his successes. I really respect him for what he has accomplished.
Ambition, political or otherwise? Politics will come later in life. Right now, I'd prefer to stay behind the scenes. My current goal is to work up the ladder in municipal management.
Describe a perfect day. A perfect day is when I can turn on the radio or television and not see the carnage and violence associated with war, ie, world peace.

Gubernatorial Apppointments
Jun 26 2006 - 2:31pm

In a statement released today, Governor Tim Kaine reappointed Sorensen alumnus and regional board member Alex Toxopeus to the State Board of Community Colleges. Toxopeus is a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 1997 as well as Chair of the Winchester Regional Board. Toxopeus currently serves as Vice Chair of the State Board of Community Colleges.

Governor Kaine also reappointed the Honorable Ross A. Mugler of Hampton, the Vice Chair of Sorensen's Hampton Roads Regional Board, to another term on the Board of Visitors for Old Dominion University.  Mugler is Commissioner of the Revenue for the City of Hampton and President of the Hampton Roads Commissioners of the Revenue Association. He also serves on the Thomas Nelson Community College Education Foundation.

Blog Summit 2006: Carnival Round Up
Jun 26 2006 - 11:50am

Semi Truths has a detailed Blog Carnival with all the posted coverage regarding the recent Blog Summit.

Click here for all the links

College Leaders Class of 2006 Graduation
Jun 26 2006 - 8:44am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006

The College Leaders Program Class of 2006 celebrated its graduation on Saturday afternoon, June 24. The festive event was held in the Dome Room at the UVA Rotunda.

Click here to listen to a podcast of the CLP 2006 graduation

The audio includes: opening comments from Executive Director Sean O'Brien; remarks by Professor Tom Shields; an address by class member Andrew Almand; Director of Youth Program Marc Johnson's presentation of the 2006 CLP Spirit of Citizenship Award to class member Brian Coy; and comments from the graduation speaker for 2006, Secretary of Administration for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Viola Baskerville. (The audio lasts just under 24 minutes).

Prior to the 2006 graduation, on Friday June 23, class members presented the results of their culminating projects to a gathering of elected officials. Bob Gibson of the Charlottesville Daily Progress was there, and shares this account.


2006 College Leaders Program: Day 26
Jun 23 2006 - 10:14am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 26--June 21
Reported by:  Curtis Walton of Old Dominion University

Curtis Walton

    This morning we woke up and began a new day in the College Leader’s Program. After eating breakfast in Newcomb Hall, we walked over to the classroom and turned in the final versions of our culminating projects. It felt great to be done with the projects after so many days of hard work.
    When we arrived to class it was evident that we have only two days left in the College Leaders Program. This morning, Doug and Peter Easter of Easter Associates  spoke to us about lobbying in Virginia. A father and son team with several decades in the business, they told us that the most important thing about lobbying is to maintain one's integrity. After teaching us the basics of lobbying, four of us went before the class to lobby for a specific issue. The two positions were whether red light cameras should be used and whether or not to raise the gas tax in Virginia to solve the transportation problem. I lobbied before the class to not increase the gas tax to fund transportation.  
    Shortly after this, we began the budget game with Professor Tom Shields. This experience brought a new appreciation for those delegates who work on the budget and ultimately wind up in conference committee. The class was divided into the House and the Senate. Each of the groups was given additional spending items, reductions in spending, and revenue enhancement options.  Our task was to somehow develop a budget for Virginia. My group, the House, worked to bring down the billion dollar deficit that had been created. However, the Senate continued to spend money. Eventually, both groups had to come together and participate in a conference committee. Both groups disagreed on what to fund, what not to fund, and how to pay for it all.  We all soon realized that there was simply not enough money to pay for everything. Compromises were necessary. We finally managed to reach consensus on a budget.
    Before we left class, Marc Johnson (or "MJ" as we call him) and the other program managers gave us back our culminating projects.  Later that evening after arriving back at Bice Hall, we met with our groups and began to develop our presentations. At about nine o’clock, we practiced our presentations with the program mangers, and fielded questions to help us prepare for the presentation to the panel in the morning.

-- Curtis Walton, Old Dominion University

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 25
Jun 23 2006 - 9:33am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 25--June 20
Reported by:  Chelsea Rock of the University of Richmond

I've got two words for you: Tim Kaine!

Yup, the wee CLPers got cozy with the big guy at the Capitol today. Our second field trip to Richmond was full of excitement and fun, bringing us up close and personal to Governor Kaine around a big conference table in the Patrick Henry Building. So far, it has been one of the main highlights of the trip and reminded me yet again how privileged I am to be able to see and engage in dialogue with just about every major (and minor!) leader in Virginia.

Today was a case and point. Last week, Attorney General Bob McDonnell graced us with his presence for a second time in a more personal setting, our very own CLP classroom. During his visit, I was able to ask him about his thoughts on Gov. Kaine's claim that, should the worst occur with the budget crisis, he could continue to run the Commonwealth on its current budget by executing his powers as Governor. Today I was able to ask the Governor the same question and get his perspective on this unprecedented time in our history.

Where else but Sorensen?

Before we chatted with Gov. Kaine, we were also able to hear from the wise Senator John Chichester, who affirmed my belief that there are honest and humble politicians in our Commonwealth that continually put Virginia above their own party politics. Other Kaine staffers like Felix-Sarfo Katanka and Steven Gould gave us their behind-the-scenes perspective on life inside the Governor's office. Delegate Rosalyn Dance, an inspirational woman, particularly for someone like myself who has no desire to run for office, told us how she rose from administrative work to city council to Mayor to the House of Delegates. Jody Wagner, Secretary of Finance, started us off that morning by educating us on the wiles of Virginia's budget.

My classmates and I agree — none of this would be possible without the incredible leadership of Marc and Sean. Never in my life would I expect to have the opportunities to talk with so many of my elected officials in a real-life, off-the-record, person-to-person dialogue, and we owe so much of the experiences we've had this far to them. Kudos to you both!

Tonight will be a typical college late night — our culminating projects are due tomorrow!

--Chelsea Rock, University of Richmond


"The Politics of Poverty"
Jun 22 2006 - 10:31am

Connie Jorgensen, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2001, is the author of an op-ed in this week's issue of the C-Ville Weekly regarding "The Politics of Poverty."

Connie writes, "All too often we blame poor people for their poverty. We imply that
poverty is a choice with statements like “if they would just pull up
their socks and get a job they wouldn’t have to be poor.” “If they just
respected themselves” we say, “they wouldn’t have a problem.” Most
everyone seems to have a story about seeing someone “abuse” food stamps
by purchasing potato chips or soda. If the poor are responsible for
their condition, then it’s O.K. for us to tut-tut about their values
and move on to more important things, like cutting the estate tax.  Now
we can justify cutting programs because the poor don’t deserve our
help—and besides, because of the tax cuts, we can’t afford these social
programs anyway. On the other end of the spectrum, I have not heard a
single call to cut subsidies to big business in the wake of the
criminal behavior of Ken Lay and others like him. What about the
undeserving rich?"

Click here to read the full text of the article

Connie is the Director of Development and Public Relations at the Monticello Area Community Action Agency.

Jay and Barbara Kessler: "The Rainmakers"
Jun 22 2006 - 10:06am

Congratulations to Charlottesville Regional Board member Jay Kessler and his wife Barbara. The two were named this week to the "C-Ville 20"--a list of the top 20 movers and shakers in the Central Virginia area. Hailed as "the Rainmakers," Jay and Barbara were recognized for their tireless efforts as co-chairs of the capital campaign to raise money for Piedmont Virginia Community College.

From the article: "All told, the Kesslers helped raise $11.3 million for the school.
Earlier this year, the feat earned them statewide recognition from the
Virginia Community College System, which honored the couple with one of
its inaugural Chancellor’s Awards for Leadership in Philanthropy. They
earned the Medallion Award from PVCC itself, which recognizes
extraordinary service to the college and is given by the president and
college board. The money will be used for a new science building, for
improvements to existing facilities, and for funding more scholarships."

Click here to read the full text of the article.

Congratulations Jay and Barbara, and thank you both for all you do!

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